Notes from a Tired Warrior

Wouldn’t you know it?  In the middle of the darkness, God sends light.  This time, in the familiar form of John Eldredge.  There is a way John has of aiming right towards heart problems and our battle on this earth.  My heart is lighter this morning from this:

WARRIOR TRAINING

I watch with such longing those warrior training scenes I mentioned earlier—Godfrey and Balian, Morpheus and Neo, Tocoa.  For years I yearned for someone to take me on as their apprentice in the way of the Warrior.  As I thought about this chapter and our fatherlessness and out predicament—I wondered, How does God bring that to a man, when there is no sort of training for spiritual warriors like this?  Then it felt as though the Holy Spirit was gently but firmly directing my thoughs to my own life.  As I thought back over the past twenty years, I saw that nearly everything I’ve learned as a Warrior, I’ve learned on the field of battle, in the school of reality, the classroom of my life.  I realized the answer to the question “How does God raise the Warrior in a man?”

Hardship.

Something in you knows it’s true.  I think this is where we have most misinterpreted what God is up to in our lives.  As long as we are commited to the path of least resistance, to making our lives comfortable, trial and tribulation will feel unkind.  But, if we are looking for a dojo in which to train was a Warrior, well then—this is the real deal.  What better means than hardship?  What better way to train a Warrior than by putting a man in situation after situation where he must fight?

I think there are foundational moments in your life that you will always remember.  Moments of either great glory or great shame that comes to steal that glory.  I remember when much of my glory was stolen.

Early on.  Maybe I was 8 or 9.  We were at the ranch house in Aberdeen.  Pop managed a farm for a wealthy doctor and we raised Arabian horses.  My brother and I are tussling in the front room, being boys for crying out loud.  I’m having way too much fun reminding my little brother who the big brother in this family is, when my father loses it and angrily snapes, Cut it out!  You don’t know your own strength!

A sentence that would curse much of my life.  A simple thing, an angry rebuke.  But to a boy, it meant the world.

At the nursing home, where I did suffer for much of my five year sentence there, I learned eventually to find some of that warrior spirit again.  I saw how some of the patients there were being ripped off in an incredible, nearly in-your-face manner.  I saw how little the nursing home did to ease their suffering and make their final months and days easier and I set about to change.  I defended those who were not being heard by management, I fought the women that ran that home tooth and nail.  The “social worker” there (I used to refer to her as the “anti-social worker”) did a lot of the residents there great harm for petty, childish reasons.  I fought against her so hard and brought the state into as many of her shady dealings as possible.  God and I?  We brought some light into the darkness and defended as best we could those who could not fight for themselves.

But somewhere in the aftermath of the freedom I longed for, I lost the will to fight.  There were so many issues that were so big and so deep, not the least of which was an economy that had drastically changed since my surgery.  The great job that I had which was leading to other things at Microsoft was not only gone, but outsourced to India.  In fact, as a desktop publisher and graphic artist, a lot of the things that I used to do are now being outsource to other countries!

Here’s the mistake that I made: after five years in a nursing home environment where my body got stronger but my soul and spirit got weaker, I thought I’d done the suffering.  Father God!  Have I not lost everything in my life?  Job? Savings? Property? Friends? Lovers? Career? Security? Health? Having been trained early on that I don’t know my own strength and hurt people, so I’d better back off, I never saw this set of trials for what they truly were: a challenge to become the man I long to be.  God wasn’t saying that I’d better back off, because I don’t know my own strength.  He was saying that I don’t know my own strength, so it’s time to press forward and lead the charge.

You will be tested.  Like Jesus’ desert trial, the enemy comes, probing the perimeter.  He knows your story, knows where the weak spots are.  But this is our training.  This is the spiritual equivalent of, “Take a high guard, like this.  Strike from high.  Like this.  Do it.  Blade straighter.  Leg back.  Bend your knees.  Sword straighter.  Defend yourself.”  This is how we develop a resolute heart.  We make no agreements with whatever the temptation or accusation is.  We repent the moment we do stumble, repent quickly so that we don’t get hammered.  We pray for strength from the Spirit of God in us.  We directly—and this is the one thing so many men fail to do—we directly resist the enemy, out loud, as Jesus did in the desert.  We quote Scripture against him.  We command him to flee.

By the time it’s over, you’ll wish a few angels would drop in and minister to you as well.  I pray they do.

There is a shame that I have carried for so long, the shame of being this old and still not having learned these lessons.  My shame and my sorrow is my weakness; how often I default to those feelings of worthlessness and weakness whenever life gets too tough.  The shame of my past life weighs on me as well.  The loneliness and sorrow that I feel, feeling like I’ll never have anyone special in my life again, stems from that shame.  I am not worthy of being loved is the lie that I hear so often.  It is the lie that I make agreements with.  It is the lie that is foundational to all the other lies I’ve agreed to over the years.

You know those weird battles in the movies where the hero is surrounded and outnumbered fifty to one?  The hero lifts his sword to take everyone on and the bad guys take their turn to battle to hero and are all defeated?  Why don’t the bad guys just all rush the hero at once and overwhelm him?  They’re bad guys, for crying out loud.

Well, beware the hero who trains for just such an eventuality.  His Master also fought the Enemy from all sides. 

Thanks for your prayers, men.  They’re truly making a difference.  Which means that the battle will get worse before it gets better.

Next post: on being intentional in the face of battle and conflict.  Even more intense.

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~ by WriterRand on April 29, 2007.

2 Responses to “Notes from a Tired Warrior”

  1. Wow.

    Thank you for sharing this. Not only does it bring me joy to see your heavenly perspective on hardship, but these words have served to encourage me in the notion that a battle against same-sex attractions serves to train and refine me as I grow into a man of God.

    I encourage you to let go of your past, brother. When I read your writings, I’m often reminded of Paul’s exhortations in the latter half of Philippians 3. Every time I see a verse on a coffee mug, paper weight, or laminated poster, it becomes easier for me to mull over the significant truth contained within it. Take a moment to consider what it would mean for Paul to “forget what lies behind” as you read that passage.

    You’re striving, my friend, and it’s great to see you gaining ground. Cast off the hinderances of the past, establish yourself at the foot of the Cross, and look to the future hope of glory.

  2. You are a man!

    You are persisting in the face of a painful battle – not surrendering. God is answering our prayers and you can trust Him for continued help.

    I will be praying.

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